How to remove TheSearchMaps browser hijacker and the redirects it causes?
Written by Tomas Meskauskas on
What is TheSearchMaps?
TheSearchMaps is a browser-hijacking extension. It promotes the thesearchmaps.com fake search engine. Due to the dubious methods used to distribute browser hijackers, they are also categorized as PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications).
TheSearchMaps browser hijacker overview
Browser hijackers (e.g., TheSearchMaps) assign fake web searcher addresses (e.g., thesearchmaps.com) as browsers' homepage, default search engine, and new tab/window URLs. Hence, this software causes redirects when new browser tabs/windows are opened and web searches are performed via the URL bar.
Fraudulent search engines usually cannot provide search results, so they redirect to Yahoo, Bing, Google, and other genuine ones. In the case of thesearchmaps.com, it redirects to Yahoo and nearbyme.io fake search engine (possibly others). While nearbyme.io can generate search results, they are inaccurate and may push untrustworthy/malicious content.
Browser hijackers also use persistence-ensuring methods to stop users from restoring their browsers. Furthermore, this software typically has data-tracking functionalities. Information of interest includes: URLs visited, pages viewed, searched queries typed, personally identifiable details, etc. The gathered data is then shared with and/or sold to third-parties (potentially, cyber criminals).
To summarize, the presence of data-tracking software on devices - can lead to system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.
|Threat Type||Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab|
|Detection Names||N/A (VirusTotal)|
|Affected Browser Settings||Homepage, new tab URL, default search engine|
|Symptoms||Manipulated Internet browser settings (homepage, default Internet search engine, new tab settings). Users are forced to visit the hijacker's website and search the Internet using their search engines.|
|Distribution methods||Deceptive pop-up ads, free software installers (bundling), fake Flash Player installers.|
|Damage||Internet browser tracking (potential privacy issues), display of unwanted ads, redirects to dubious websites.|
|Malware Removal (Windows)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
Browser hijackers in general
OnlinePDF-Converter, HoroscopeZone, and WebCouponSearch are a few examples of browser hijackers. They look innocuous and offer "handy" features that usually do not work.
In fact, this applies to nearly all PUAs. The only goal of unwanted applications is to generate revenue at user expense. Therefore, instead of delivering on any promises, PUAs can hijack browsers, cause redirects, run intrusive ad campaigns (adware), and collect sensitive data.
How did TheSearchMaps install on my computer?
PUAs can be downloaded/installed together with other software. This method of packing ordinary programs with unwanted/malicious additions - is named "bundling". Intrusive advertisements are used to spread PUAs as well. Once clicked on, the adverts can execute scripts to make stealthy download/installations. Some PUAs also have "official" promotional/download sites.
How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?
It is recommended to research software and only download from official/verified channels. Dubious download channels, e.g., unofficial and freeware sites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc. - often offer bundled/harmful content.
When downloading/installing, it is advised to read terms, study available options, and use the "Custom/Advanced" settings to opt-out from all additions. Intrusive ads appear legitimate; however, they redirect to various questionable websites (e.g., adult-dating, gambling, pornography, etc.).
In case of encounters with such adverts and/or redirects, the system must be checked and all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins detected - immediately removed from it. If your computer is already infected with TheSearchMaps, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate this browser hijacker.
Appearance of thesearchmaps.com redirecting to the nearbyme.io fake search engine (GIF):
Instant automatic malware removal:
Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
- What is TheSearchMaps?
- STEP 1. Uninstall TheSearchMaps application using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove TheSearchMaps browser hijacker from Google Chrome.
- STEP 3. Remove thesearchmaps.com homepage and default search engine from Mozilla Firefox.
- STEP 4. Remove thesearchmaps.com redirect from Safari.
- STEP 5. Remove rogue plug-ins from Microsoft Edge.
TheSearchMaps browser hijacker removal:
Windows 11 users:
Right-click on the Start icon, select Apps and Features. In the opened window search for the application you want to uninstall, after locating it, click on the three vertical dots and select Uninstall.
Windows 10 users:
Right-click in the lower left corner of the screen, in the Quick Access Menu select Control Panel. In the opened window choose Programs and Features.
Windows 7 users:
Click Start (Windows Logo at the bottom left corner of your desktop), choose Control Panel. Locate Programs and click Uninstall a program.
macOS (OSX) users:
Click Finder, in the opened screen select Applications. Drag the app from the Applications folder to the Trash (located in your Dock), then right click the Trash icon and select Empty Trash.
In the uninstall programs window: look for any recently installed suspicious applications (for example, "TheSearchMaps"), select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".
After uninstalling the potentially unwanted applications (which cause browser redirects to the thesearchmaps.com website), scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.
TheSearchMaps browser hijacker removal from Internet browsers:
Video showing how to remove browser redirects:
Remove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:
Click the Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "More tools" and click "Extensions". Locate "TheSearchMaps" and other recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons, and remove them.
Change your homepage:
Click the Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "Settings". In the "On startup" section, disable "TheSearchMaps", look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://www.thesearchmaps.com) below the “Open a specific or set of pages” option. If present click on the three vertical dots icon and select “Remove”.
Change your default search engine:
To change your default search engine in Google Chrome: Click the Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "Settings", in the "Search engine" section, click "Manage search engines...", in the opened list look for "thesearchmaps.com", when located click the three vertical dots near this URL and select "Remove from list".
If you continue to have problems with removal of the thesearchmaps.com redirect, reset your Google Chrome browser settings. Click the Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome) and select Settings. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen. Click the Advanced… link.
After scrolling to the bottom of the screen, click the Reset (Restore settings to their original defaults) button.
In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Google Chrome settings to default by clicking the Reset button.
Remove malicious plugins from Mozilla Firefox:
Click the Firefox menu (at the top right corner of the main window), select "Add-ons". Click on "Extensions" and remove "TheSearchMaps", as well as all other recently installed browser plug-ins.
Change your homepage:
To reset your homepage, click the Firefox menu (at the top right corner of the main window), then select "Options", in the opened window disable "TheSearchMaps", remove hxxp://thesearchmaps.com and enter your preferred domain, which will open each time you start Mozilla Firefox.
Change your default search engine:
In the URL address bar, type about:config and press Enter.
Click "I'll be careful, I promise!".
In the search filter at the top, type: "extensionControlled"
Set both results to "false" by either double-clicking each entry or clicking the button.
Computer users who have problems with thesearchmaps.com redirect removal can reset their Mozilla Firefox settings.
Open Mozilla Firefox, at the top right corner of the main window, click the Firefox menu, in the opened menu, click Help.
Select Troubleshooting Information.
In the opened window, click the Refresh Firefox button.
In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Mozilla Firefox settings to default by clicking the Refresh Firefox button.
Remove malicious extensions from Safari:
Make sure your Safari browser is active and click Safari menu, then select Preferences...
In the preferences window select the Extensions tab. Look for any recently installed suspicious extensions and uninstall them.
In the preferences window select General tab and make sure that your homepage is set to a preferred URL, if its altered by a browser hijacker - change it.
In the preferences window select Search tab and make sure that your preferred Internet search engine is selected.
Make sure your Safari browser is active and click on Safari menu. From the drop down menu select Clear History and Website Data...
In the opened window select all history and click the Clear History button.
Remove malicious extensions from Microsoft Edge:
Click the Edge menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Extensions". Locate any recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons, and remove them.
Change your homepage and new tab settings:
Click the Edge menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Settings". In the "On startup" section look for the name of the browser hijacker and click "Disable".
Change your default Internet search engine:
To change your default search engine in Microsoft Edge: Click the Edge menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Privacy and services", scroll to bottom of the page and select "Address bar". In the "Search engines used in address bar" section look for the name of the unwanted Internet search engine, when located click the "Disable" button near it. Alternatively you can click on "Manage search engines", in the opened menu look for unwanted Internet search engine. Click on the puzzle icon near it and select "Disable".
If you continue to have problems with removal of the thesearchmaps.com redirect, reset your Microsoft Edge browser settings. Click the Edge menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge) and select Settings.
In the opened settings menu select Reset settings.
Select Restore settings to their default values. In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Microsoft Edge settings to default by clicking the Reset button.
- If this did not help, follow these alternative instructions explaining how to reset the Microsoft Edge browser.
A browser hijacker is a type of adware infection that modifies Internet browser settings by assigning the homepage and default Internet search engine settings to some other (unwanted) website URL. Commonly, this type of adware infiltrates operating systems through free software downloads. If your download is managed by a download client, ensure that you decline offers to install advertised toolbars or applications that seek to change your homepage and default Internet search engine settings.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the purpose of forcing users to visit thesearchmaps.com website?
Fake search engine and browser hijacker developers generate revenue through such redirects.
Is visiting thesearchmaps.com a threat to my privacy?
That is very likely to be the case. Usually, sites like thesearchmaps.com collect information about their visitors.
How did a browser hijacker infiltrate my computer?
Browser hijackers are proliferated via misleading promotional webpages, software bundling, deceptive browser notifications/ intrusive ads, online scams, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, unofficial and freeware download websites, fake updaters/installers, etc.
Will Combo Cleaner help me remove TheSearchMaps browser hijacker?
Yes, Combo Cleaner is capable of scanning devices and eliminating installed browser-hijacking apps. It is noteworthy that manual removal might not be ideal. In some cases, when multiple browser hijackers - they might re-install one another. Furthermore, removal-related settings can be inaccessible with this software installed. Therefore, it is crucial to remove browser hijackers thoroughly and all at once.
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